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American opinion of Germany improves

DPA/The Local · 2 Mar 2010, 18:37

Published: 02 Mar 2010 18:37 GMT+01:00

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Some 48 percent of the US citizens who participated in the December 2009 poll by the government-sponsored German Information Centre reported having an “excellent” or “good” view of Germany.

“I'm extremely pleased. The good results show that excellent political ties between our governments is accompanied by a rather positive view of our country by Americans,” German Ambassador to the US Klaus Scharioth said as he presented the results.

Of the 1,051 representative Americans who participated in the poll just one month after Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her historic speech to the US Congress, feelings about Germany were most positive among young university graduates.

Germany is no longer associated with old clichés in the United States, but rather with top technological developments and important issues such as environmental protection and the development of renewable energy.

The results are significantly better than they were during the height of diplomatic tensions over the Iraq war when former President George W. Bush was in office. Back then, just 27 percent of poll participants associated positive sentiments with Germany.

Meanwhile the German-American relationship is believed to be “excellent” or “good” by 41 percent of the US citizens, up almost 10 percent from the last poll, though still not as high as September 2001 when a whopping 65 percent had positive feelings about the transatlantic partnership.

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But 47 percent said they believed Germany could do more in the war against terrorism especially in Afghanistan, according to the survey.

And while the American view of Germany may be positive, only 12 percent of those polled said it was very influential in their country’s policy decisions. Germany rated fifth place in importance behind the UK, Canada, China and Japan.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:19 March 2, 2010 by dporrieo
I think that America's improved view of Germany has more to do with comparing Chancellor Angela Merkel with Germany's previous Chancellor. Obama has nothing to do with it.
19:54 March 2, 2010 by Joshontour
I have to agree with dporrieo... I can't see how Obama has improved anyone's view of anything.
21:27 March 2, 2010 by Eagle1
I think that the American view of Germany has improved only because fewer Germans are publicly bitching and moaning about Iraq and Afghanistan. It has nothing directly to do with Obama, except that fewer Germans likely are complaining since Obama-the-Puss crossed the Atlantic and kissed many Old-World asses during last year's European Apology Tour. The guy is an embarrassment.
22:30 March 2, 2010 by wood artist
As is always the case, the change in perceptions is unlikely based upon any single event. Certainly the numbers in September of 2001 were, but that was an extraordinary situation.

Obama's measured approach to the wars has certainly changed the way those are viewed, and candidly, Iraq isn't really a story every night in the US news. Also, Germany's embrace of Obama has probably colored the US perception too.

As for Germany being "#5" in importance is probably about right, at least from a public perception. Canada is obvious, although that's a bit higher than I might have expected. Japan's economy seems more visually linked to the US, although the number might not support that. China not only provides a whole lot of low-cost consumer goods, but is also a big investor in the US, a fact brought out during the recent financial crisis. Those things move China and Japan closer to the top.

The UK is there largely for reasons of tradition, and I think Germany being #5 is actually a very strong endorsement of the German economy and governance. It would be easy to see Mexico in this position, since their proximity makes them "more important" in many ways.

00:24 March 3, 2010 by jed_ir
I've always liked Germany. Having our first Marxist/Fascist/Nazi-like President that is attractive to Germans not withstanding. I don't understand why having such a president is something Germans should like. He employs his SEIU thugs just like Hitler used his Brown Shirts. Why does he turn Germans on? Destroying our economy surely can't be good for Europe. Spending us into subjugation can't be a good thing?
02:30 March 3, 2010 by LiterallySimon
Probably because most Germans think that ANYONE is better than Bush/Cheney. ANYONE who has a more sophisticated world view than 'we' and 'them' (which is actually rather Nazi-like).

He may be wrong on some issues (and it's not my intention to argue about that), but people who know what the Nazis were like would not even dare to compare a democratic-minded leader to Hitler. It's disgusting comparing someone to Hitler or the SA just because you don't like his/her policies. It's an insult to Germans who were in opposition to the regime, it's an insult to Jews, Poles, homosexuals, Sinti and Romanies in death camps, it's an insult to American soldiers who were risking their lives.

You may hate Obama (and that's your right) but the way you talk about him does hurt your credibility, not his.
04:40 March 3, 2010 by deutschamer
Many of the comments above are about how Germans perceive Americans. The article was about how Americans perceive Germans. I don't get it.

I'm an American. Germans should know that many Americans are brainwashed with endless WWII movies even 65 years after the war. The movies constantly remind us how even though somehow the Germans outnumbered the Soviets, Americans, and English, we won anyway because we were such better fighters, and the Germans were all incompetent, wicked evil killers. We are inherently morally superior to Germans. We saved the Germans from their own wickedness. The Germans need to be etermally grateful and forever feel guilty for the war, even if they weren't born until after the war.

Many of us don't believe that. I think it hurts your country to be constantly guilty for something generations ago. The important thing is that you continue to teach the history accurately and not gloss over it. Thats something few countries can bring themselves to do. Japan has never come to grips with their past. White Americans don't feel guilty about slavery, nor should they since they had nothing to do with it, even if their ancestors did. Present day Germans should not feel guilty about WWII either.
04:45 March 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"I've always liked Germany. Having our first Marxist/Fascist/Nazi-like President that is attractive to Germans not withstanding. I don't understand why having such a president is something Germans should like. He employs his SEIU thugs just like Hitler used his Brown Shirts. Why does he turn Germans on? Destroying our economy surely can't be good for Europe. Spending us into subjugation can't be a good thing?"

Brilliantly stated! You make the idiotic tea party right wingnuts sound almost educated by comparison.
08:23 March 3, 2010 by MaKo
Seconds Prufrock. Who knew a benign article on Americans' opinion of Germany could be contorted into an Obama-bashing platform.
08:47 March 3, 2010 by Talonx
Mako, have you been posting on here long, sh#t like that happens all the time on the local. I sometimes wonder if foxnews doesn't link directly here.
10:23 March 3, 2010 by Jim09
jed_ir, what can you say to person like him? i guess nothing.

i hope he is a ten year old redneck because that would be the only excuse to say Obama is Marxist.

I mean seriously. Thats funny but at the same time sad that a person can be so stupid, so blind..

@ all, why was the rating so high after 9/11?
11:29 March 3, 2010 by trottercarriagehorse
Why is it a good thing that Americans should think well of Germany? I am of the opinion that Americans should more be thinking of how to protect themselves from Germans or the EU. Most of Germany's neighbors are afraid of Germans and Germany if I am not mistaken?
11:44 March 3, 2010 by Joshontour
@LiterallySimon--- The story is about Americans having a better view of Germany, not Germans having a better view of America. Obviously the story is skewed to make it seem as though Obama has something to do with that.

@deutschamer--- What school did you go to? I was never given the impression that Germans outnumbered anybody or that we are morally superior, then again my father is a veteran of the 2nd WW so perhaps I have a better overview of what really happened. And, albeit our movies may sensationalize, such is always the case when Hollywood is involved. They are far from the brainwashing propaganda type movies that you present.
11:55 March 3, 2010 by Talonx
Trottercarriagehorse, the modern stereotype that I've encountered of Germans while living in Europe for the past three years is one of a respectable group of mildly alcohol imbibing socially responsible historically aware humanitarians with generally good business sense and a shrewd eye for BS. So no, I don't think most people are afraid of Germans. Generally speaking, I think the stereotype I've just oultined fits the reality quite nicely, so people shouldn't be afraid either.

In the case of the E.U. as a whole, let's just say it's not as hated as the U.S.
12:20 March 3, 2010 by trottercarriagehorse
Well, all I can say is that while once when leaving Amsterdam for Berlin, I took the mitfahrzentrale and as I was getting in the car with other Germans the group of Dutch men started attacking us because they did not like Germans- At the time I could not understand it very well. Why do the Dutch feel the way they do? Maybe they don¦#39;t want to forget or can¦#39;t forget. It appears that we Americans want to forget all too quickly, I think it is a strength that we are an open people, but on the other hand a little more of ¦#39;mistrust¦#39; would do us well.
14:06 March 3, 2010 by hanskarl
Most Americans that I know never had a bad opinion about Germany. They were more deeply troubled by the change in German opinion toward the US. If anyone had a bad opinion about Germany that I recall it was those Germans that that moved to America in the past 70 years and became citizens. They were really put off by "Fernshen Schroeder's" and the national German news knee left jerk move to the left and the attacks against America. They remember the turn to the left and the American bashing that began in the news with Fernshen Schroeder's campaign.

Prior to that the German news was their place to find a balanced report on events. That all changed and this precipitated in their deep downturn of opinion about Germany. They refuse to watch German news programs or listen to German radio programs from the Heimatland for that reason.

Obama has had absolutely nothing to do with this so called change in America's opinion. If anything he is an embarrassment to most Americans who are finally waking up and seeing the final developments of the American Social Welfare state. Most German expatriates that I have talked in the US are deeply worried as they see to many similarities in his methodologies to the past.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on the other hand has everything to do with restoring the dignity of the countries relationship and in bringing it back to an even keel and a sense of community with an America that so closely has held Germany as their friend.

Meanwhile, Schroeder clearly loves and continues to love his Socialist Communist friends. He rubbed shoulders with them consistently as Chancellor and they have since rewarded him with a plum job.
15:25 March 3, 2010 by Talonx
trottercarriagehorse, I would say you fell in with some ignorant Dutch folk, unfortunately in Holland their is a propensity, contra what I stated earlier, to be essentialistic and almost racist about the German people. Though, by no means would I say this is true of all the Dutch (or even a majority of them, in fact alot of the time this 'hatred' is more of a joke no different to the America-Canada jokes).

A few Germans that are in my post-grad cohort are in fact Netherlands educated for undergrad and have never encountered anything off in Holland. Though it is somewhat known that you don't want to advertise yourself in backwards small towns in Holland as being German. But then again, small towns the world over seem to have a propensity for essentialistic insularity.
16:15 March 3, 2010 by Alan F
Funny thing that Germany actually cares what the Yanks think of them while Canada does not. Currently Canada is experiencing a push from the Chinese to get a foothold into its commodities industries and those American companies who having made most of their profits from such in Canada are sweating buckets. For the most part, anything to do with the commodities sector "Made in America" (and a whole lot of that which is praised as "American" ingenuity) starts and ends in Canada. So while their relationship with China begets them jobs at Walmart, their one with Canada begets them engineers, heavy crane operators and machinists. So being America for a moment, which would you lend preference to?
18:01 March 3, 2010 by Talonx
Alan F, you of course have to keep in mind that we're (Americans) in huge debt to the Chinese right now. By your friends according to economics logic we should be best friends with the Chinese (which of course we aren't).
00:09 March 4, 2010 by Beachrider
Geez, I feel dizzy. Someone is spinning up a storm! That kind of spinning rarely exposes truth. Germany is the largest country in the EU. For that reason alone, it has a high exposure in the USA.

I suppose that some think of Germany as it was portrayed in 50s-60s USA movies and TV, but that is far from a majority position. The under-40 crowd wasn't directly exposed to European-theater, WWII veterans at the dinner table every night. Many over-40s were.

The reason that Obama is mentioned in the same breath is because Bush was SO parochial. There is a substantial part of the USA population that also thinks like that. The ascendancy of Obama simply means that the Xenophobes have been pushed more into the background. Perhaps not for long. There is an election this year and the pendulum swings back-and-forth.
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